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A Short Analysis of William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’

A reading of Blake’s classic poem

‘Jerusalem’ is one of the most famous hymns around, a sort of alternative national anthem for England. Yet the poem on which Hubert Parry based his hymn, although commonly referred to as ‘William Blake’s “Jerusalem”’, is actually from a much larger poetic work titled Milton a Poem and was largely ignored when it was published in 1804. It became well-known when it was set to music by Parry during the First World War (curiously, it was Robert Bridges, the Poet Laureate and the one who got Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poems into print, who suggested the idea to Parry). In this post, we’re going to delve deeper into the poem we know as ‘Jerusalem’, focusing on William Blake’s use of language.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills? Read the rest of this entry

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The Best Coleridge Poems Everyone Should Read

Five of Coleridge’s finest poems

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was one of the leading English Romantic poets, whose Lyrical Ballads, the 1798 collection Coleridge co-authored with Wordsworth, became a founding-text for English Romanticism. In this post, we’ve picked five of Coleridge’s best poems, and endeavoured to explain why these might be viewed as his finest poems.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Written in 1797-8, this is Coleridge’s most famous poem – it first appeared in Lyrical Ballads. The idea of killing an albatross bringing bad luck upon the crew of a ship appears to have been invented in this poem, as there is no precedent for it – and the albatross idea was probably William Wordsworth’s, not Coleridge’s (Wordsworth got the idea of the albatross-killing from a 1726 book, A Voyage Round The World by Way of the Great South Sea, by Captain George Shelvocke). Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Shelley’s ‘To the Moon’

A summary of Shelley’s short moon poem

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was one of the greatest second-generation Romantic poets, along with John Keats and Lord Byron. Shelley’s poem ‘To the Moon’ is a short lyric in which the poet, addressing the moon in the night sky, poses several questions to it. ‘To the Moon’ is worth analysing because it displays many hallmarks of Romantic poetry, not least the observation of and identification with the world around us (or, in the case of the moon, the world beyond our world), and pathetic fallacy, or the attributing of human emotions to non-human objects. Here is ‘To the Moon’.

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy? Read the rest of this entry